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Evolution of morphological diversity in Squamata: relations with environmental gradients and developmental mechanisms in neotropical lizards

Grant number: 21/03089-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Morphology of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:Tiana Kohlsdorf
Grantee:Vinicius Anelli
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:20/14780-1 - Evo-Devo in dynamic environments: implications of climatic changes in the biodiversity, AP.BTA.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):22/05737-0 - Investigating the role of environmental correlates on global patterns of morphological diversity in lizards, BE.EP.DR


Neotropical lizard lineages represent a considerable taxonomic and phenotypic diversity, distributed along multiple ecological and climatic gradients. Relations between environmental factors and patterns of distribution of morphological diversity remain unknown in these lineages. Ecological parameters may also explain the evolution of phenotypic patterns, allowing the postulation of relations between developmental mechanisms and morphological differentiation associated to the occupation of new environments. Our research proposal aims to characterize patterns of morphological diversity in neotropical lizards, evaluating macroevolutionary processes related to the establishment and distribution of biodiversity, as well as inferring ontogenetic mechanisms involved with the development of phenotypic patterns. We intend to evaluate the role of environmental and climatic gradients during the evolution of morphological diversity patterns in Teiidae, Gymnophthalmidae and Pleurodonta. We will initially assemble a representative ecomorphological database congregating specimens available at herpetological collections. Data will be analyzed using phylogenetic comparative analyses and biogeography. We additionally aim to test associations between ecological gradients and molecular signatures in the coding region of RUNX2 gen, a transcription factor involved with skull shape development, focusing on snakelike lizards associated to fossoriality. Our results will further contribute and improve future projections concerning the impact of climate change on the neotropical herpetofauna over the next decades. (AU)

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